30 years ago, during the night between June 3 and 4 the military fired onto the unarmed crowd of young people. The massacre was followed by economic reforms that spread well-being to hide the military’s blood-stained hands. Another legacy is the religious revival after more than 70 years of communism and militant atheism.
Rome (AsiaNews) –China’s Minister of Defense, Gen. Wei Fenghe is correct when he says that “thanks” to the Tiananmen massacre, “the last 30 years have shown that China has undergone major changes”, and thanks to that particularly bloody government intervention “the country has enjoyed stability and development “.
Today’s China is in fact a legacy of what happened in Tiananmen, that night between June 3 and 4 when the tanks and the People’s Liberation Army cut off mowed down between 300 and 2 thousand young people, guilty of asking their leaders for some political reform towards democracy and less corruption.
For almost 40 days they had occupied the largest square in the world together with workers from different cities, reaching over one million people. Many of them had sworn to die for their homeland. And their oaths were fulfilled in the grimmest of ways: killed by their own army; condemned to death by those who pretended to be saviors of China.
The economic success of today’s China is the fruit of Tiananmen. In order to hide the military’s blood stained hands and the plummeting popular respect for them just months later the Party authorities led by Deng Xiaoping decided to roll out economic reforms that would guarantee widespread well-being: only by spreading wealth and well-bing could they repurchase an at least pragmatic respect on the part of the population. This wealth was the opium that helped people forget the massacre.
Another hidden legacy of Tiananmen is corruption. The poor students and workers were demanding fair wages, decent university canteens, studies abroad not only for the children of the Party leaders. By annihilating their demands – which involved political reforms – China has condemned itself to a never-ending corruption. At first Jiang Zemin, then Hu Jintao and now Xi Jinping continue to cry out for honesty, sobriety, against bribes … Xi himself has had important generals and regional Party leaders, so-called “tigers” and “flies,” arrested, for corruption together with common offials. But not a day goes by without a scandal, falsified budgets, government bribes, industrial, medical and food manipulation. Liu Xiaobo, one of the Tiananmen heroes killed by the government in prison, pointed out that without democratic elections there is no escape from corruption.
Tiananmen torpedoed esteem for the Chinese Communist Party. Immediately after the massacre about 80% of the adherents distanced themselves from it. The end of the Promethean myth of the Party has set in motion in the minds of many Chinese the search for new values that are deeper, truer, more eternal. The religious revival in the country – after more than 70 years of communism and militant atheism – is another important legacy of Tiananmen. The Chinese have had to find in religions, even in Christianity, meaning for their tears and their shed blood. The slow suffocation that the Party operates on official religions and the persecution of unofficial communities, violence against Muslims in Xinjiang, are the sign of a battle that the Party is waging against anything that can obscure its absolute power. But it is a war that is impossible to win: instead of making sense, the Party offers maximum economic security (for the middle class) and a little material well-being. But this does not fill the void that impels the millions to keep searching. The present struggle of the Party against religions and against Christianity is a struggle for its survival: according to some scholars (such as Yang Fenggang), in 2050 China will be the country with the largest number of Christians in the world.
Finally, it must be said that in these 30 years of economic and material struggle, the Party has made allies of the rest of the international community which, terrified by the global economic crises, has tried to bind itself to the Chinese wagon, accepting its vision of material well-being, trading with China, but never asking any questions about the meaning, human rights, religious freedom. In this way, while applauding the “greatness” of the country, the Chinese people were enslaved, having for so long become the cheap labor for the world’s industry. And even now just as the “new Silk Roads” are being praised, there is an attempt to exploit China as a cash cow for have capital. And this is also a legacy of Tiananmen: now just as then the people are being used as cannon fodder.
And yet, at least Europe should be grateful to the young people of Tiananmen: thanks to their bloody sacrifice of 4 June 1989, the falls of the communist regimes that it set in motion only months later were almost non-violent: This is one more reason to remember Tiananmen.